Amazon.com distribution center planned for Pittsburgh's West End

| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

Amazon.com is coming to Pittsburgh.

The Seattle-based Internet giant has leased 250,000 square feet — equivalent to 4.3 football fields — in the former Roomful Express warehouse at 2250 Roswell Drive in the Fairywood section of the West End where it will establish a “sort center” that can deliver items within 24 hours of purchase.

The site is part of a new Amazon network of “sort centers,” where customer orders will be sorted by final destination and consolidated onto trucks for faster delivery, said Nina Lindsey, an Amazon spokeswoman. Amazon expects to increase its sort centers from 8 to more than 15 by the end of the year.

Pittsburgh's sort center will serve the immediate area and nearby regions, she said, though she declined to specify the areas.

“There are a lot of contributing factors that go into our thought process as we decide where to place a new sort center,” she said. “Most importantly, we want to make sure a sort center is placed as close to the customer as possible.”

The sort center will produce more than 100 jobs, Lindsey said. It will serve the immediate area and nearby regions, she said, though she declined to specify the areas.

Sort centers “are the key element enabling Sunday delivery for our customers,” Lindsey said. Amazon expects to offer Sunday delivery to most of the country by the end of the year.

Customer packages come from fulfillment centers to sort centers, according to ZIP codes. The sort centers “handle packages that contain small items like books, electronics or consumer goods,” Lindsey said. Amazon uses several carriers for deliveries.

“We have not announced the opening timeline for the (Pittsburgh) sort center, but we expect it to move quickly,” she said.

The center will join ModCloth in the building, bringing occupancy there to 100 percent, said Maurice Ades, principal and head of acquisition in the Northeast for Rugby Realty, the building's owner.

He said Amazon signed a long-term lease, but he did not know when it would begin operating.

“Both parties are spending millions to make the building a Class A structure to meet their demands,” Ades said.

Rugby is building a parking area for Amazon, which is installing distribution equipment.

Ades said many companies nationwide recognize Pittsburgh as a place on par with New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle for locating business operations.

The West End site was attractive because it has easy access to Pittsburgh International Airport, two major highways and Downtown, he said.

Sam Spatter is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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